Before You Go Global
Start selling your products and services outside the US.
Are you considering how to grow your business? Are you selling to customers outside the US but not sure you’re thinking everything through?
Grow your business and avoid common pitfalls selling your products and services outside the United States Before You Go Global. The PCC SBDC Global Trade Center team will teach you how to:
- Determine if global expansion is right for your business with risk-benefit analysis.
- Grow your business with exports. The potential for profit in international markets is huge, with over 95% of consumers living outside the U.S.
- Avoid costly mistakes when entering the global market. Mitigate financial risks by knowing key components of exporting, including foreign banking and regulatory requirements.
Discover Our Global Trade Programs
Visit the Global Trade Center for more.
Assessment for Prospective Exporters
This questionnaire for new exporters includes areas to consider when determining your level of export readiness, and provides an initial assessment of your exporting needs and capabilities.
For New Exporters Looking to Develop International Business
Many businesses could be exporting, but view the process as too burdensome or don’t know where to start. This questionnaire includes areas to consider when determining your level of export readiness, and provides an initial assessment of your exporting needs and capabilities. Many of these questions will guide you to the Exporting Basics Video Series on the export.gov homepage with more information and resources on exporting. The end of this document points to the series of market destinations videos; export markets that may hold potential for your company.
Does your company have a product or service that has successfully sold in the domestic market?
A product or service’s success in the domestic market is a good indicator of its potential for export success. If your product or service is untried in the domestic marketplace, you could benefit from concentrating on domestic sales first. In the meantime, view The Export Process Overview to see what to expect when your product or service is ready to export.
Is your company’s management committed to developing export markets and willing and able to dedicate staff, time and resources to the process?
Management commitment is the number one determining factor for export success, and an essential part of any export plan. View The Export Process Overview and My Export Plan.
Does your company have or is it preparing an export business plan with defined goals and strategies?
Many companies begin export activities haphazardly, without carefully screening markets or options for market entry. Without an export plan, better export opportunities are often overlooked. Start by formulating a well-thought-out export strategy. View My Export Plan, Research the Global Market Place, and Select Initial Markets.
Does your company have sufficient production capacity that can be committed to the export market? Will financing be required for any expansion?
Can your company meet the increased demand it is creating? More space and equipment might be required to manufacture for the specific countries (which often have their own product standards and regulations) you are selling to. Financing might be needed to include any product modification costs. View Preparing Your Product for Export.
Does your company have the financial resources to actively support an increase of product sales in targeted overseas markets?
A big hurdle for many companies is market development, as it requires funds for activities such as international travel, trade missions, trade show participation, market research, and business training. However, federal government export financing programs can assist. View Export Financing and links to the Trade Finance Guide.
Do you have both U.S. and foreign Intellectual Property Protection for your product?U.S. businesses should know that protecting your intellectual property domestically does not extend your protection internationally, so companies should do their research first before exporting. View Protecting Your IP Abroad.
Does your company have capabilities to modify ingredients and product packaging to meet foreign import regulations, cultural preferences, and survive competition?
Selecting and preparing your product for export requires both knowledge of the product and the unique characteristics of each target market. However, before the sale can occur, your product(s) may need to be modified to satisfy buyer tastes, or regulatory requirements in foreign countries. View the Plan Your Market Entry Strategy video set.
Does your company have appropriate knowledge in shipping its product overseas, such as identifying and selecting international freight forwarders and freight costs to ensure customs clearance overseas?
When shipping a product overseas, be aware of packing, labeling, documentation and insurance requirements. Also, be familiar with methods of shipping, import rules and regulations of foreign countries, and export regulations of the U.S. government. View Shipping Basics and Export Documentation.
Does your company have knowledge and experience of export payment methods, such as developing and negotiating letters of credit?
Experienced exporters have extensive knowledge of export payment mechanisms, extend credit cautiously, and monitor older accounts. A U.S. Commercial Service International Company Profile (ICP) provides key information for credit checks. View Methods of Payment and Get Export Counseling which highlights the International Company Profile.
Does your company have knowledge and understanding of U.S. export controls and compliance?
Check to see if your product might require an export license, particularly if your product has military or dual military/civilian use. There are several U.S. government agencies that oversee licensing requirements for distinct categories of products. View U.S. Export Regulations.
Before you Export:
Export Prerequisites (Extracted from Exporting Basics by Maurice Kogon, President, Export Services, Inc.) An “ideal” exporter has four basic attributes – a committed management, a competitive product, adequate resources, and sound marketing methodology.
Management Commitment: A motivated management is the primary key to export success – “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” If the will exists, ways can be found to make a product more salable; overcome or adjust to tight budgets; or try a better way to market a product. But that won’t happen with a reluctant or indifferent management. Exporting takes time and perseverance to pay off. To be more than an occasional or incidental exporter, management must be willing to commit and see it through. Have you or your management reached this point? Do you see exporting contributing to sound, specific company goals? Do you want foreign sales to be a more significant facet of your business? Would you be willing to wait the 2-4 times longer it may take to develop new export business, compared with domestic selling? If you’re not sure, you might try low-risk, “go-slow” approaches to test the waters and build more confidence in your export potential. These are discussed under Costs of Exporting below.
Product Competitiveness: Products won’t sell anywhere if they can’t compete. To compete, your product must match or exceed the appeal of others – in meeting needs, in quality, price, etc. Are you export competitive? You may well be without realizing it. For example, if your product has sold reasonably well in the U.S., chances are it will also sell abroad. Why? Because, to do well here, the world’s largest market, you’ve already proven you can compete, not only against other American products, but imported products as well. This is essentially the same competition you’ll meet when you export. The overseas playing field will be different, and you may need to adapt your product and pricing somewhat to compete in specific markets. You might have to absorb added marketing and shipping costs to remain price competitive. You may have to offer credit and wait longer for payment to match competitors. You may need to alter your product to comply with local standards and tastes. Are you prepared to do what it takes to compete? If you can’t or won’t, you’ll not prosper abroad unless you’re the only game in town.
Export Resources: If you’re just starting, you’ll need experienced staff, premises and equipment, as with any start-up business. That could be as little as yourself, a home-based office, and a computer, phone and fax. If you’re already established, you’ll need to research and develop potential markets abroad. As export orders come in, you’ll need enough product on hand to fill them, or the ability to produce or acquire more product as needed. If your customers want delayed payment terms, you’ll have to pay for financing. You can minimize these costs and still export, but you can’t eliminate them entirely. Do you have or can you get the necessary resources? If not, consider a go-slow, low-budget approach discussed under Costs of Exporting below.
Marketing Methodology: How you enter and develop a foreign market is important, and the best way may not be how you’ve done it here. Marketing and distribution practices vary by country, often dictated by law, custom or necessity. Some countries may require or prefer certain marketing or distribution methods, such as direct sales or use of local agents; others may control or prohibit them. Some may have excellent mass media and high receptivity to advertising, trade shows, mail order, etc. Others may shun these approaches, or not have the modern communications to support them. Are you prepared to adapt your marketing methodology where necessary? If not, you’ll need to limit yourself to U.S.-like markets, such as Canada.
Additional resources from export.gov
Meet Our Team
Our team has decades of experience supporting small business professionals who seek to become importers. Advisors from PCC SBDC’s Global Trade Center can eliminate the guesswork and trial and error enabling you time to run your business.
Warren Banks. Warren has an MBA from the University of Puget Sound with an emphasis on international marketing and finance. He spent 25 years in the financial services industry which included managing a representative office in Tokyo, Japan, starting a wholly owned subsidiary for international trade and finance in Portland, Oregon, and was a SVP and Manager of the International Financial Services Division of U.S. Bank of Oregon. He achieved his Certified Global Business Professional certification in September, 2013. Read more about Warren.
David Kohl. David is a U.S. Department of Commerce certified international trade adviser with a federal appointment as a member of the District Export Council of Oregon, and sits on the National ASBDC (America’s Small Business Development Centers) Professional Development Committee as International Trade Liaison. He has experience working with Fortune 500 companies, top-ranked universities and government agencies around the world. Clients have included The U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Nike, Intel, Logitech, Columbia Sportswear, ESCO. He’s also worked with security agencies at Portland International Airport and management at the Port of Vancouver, WA. His specialty expertise is in cross-cultural relations and the East Asia region. David is a NASBITE Certified Global Business professional (CGBP) and Certified CGBP trainer. Read more about David.
Scott Goddin. Scott is an experienced Global Trade Consultant with a successful track record of advising clients on international market development, trade policy and technical issues/strategies related to legal, compliance and regulatory approvals critical to foreign market entry. Scott has a demonstrated history of working collaboratively with federal, state, regional and city economic development partners and trade associations in developing client trade capacity and strategies for succeeding in foreign markets.Scott has over thirty-five years of experience in advising companies (of all sizes) on doing business globally, both from a business development and trade policy perspective. Read more about Scott.
Tammy Marquez-Oldham. As Director of the Portland Community College Small Business Development Center and the Oregon Small Business Development Center’s Global Trade Center, Tammy leads the vision of providing the highest level of business education and advising possible. Tammy brings 30 years of experience in the education, healthcare, software and food industries to the clients she serves in her capacity at Portland Community College. She has owned several businesses and hired, trained and developed hundreds of employees. She has experience building business domestically and internationally, impacting more than 2,000 clients over the past 10 years. With a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development from Warner Pacific College and a Master’s in Business from George Fox University, Tammy brings a unique and holistic approach to her work.
Upcoming Schedule for Before You Go Global
Find the CRN of your course from the class schedule. Then, register:
- Online: If this is your first time taking a class at PCC, create an account. If you are a returning student, log on to MyPCC and click “Register for classes,” found in your Term-to-Term Checklist, under “Register”.
- Phone: Call 971-722-8888, option 2.
Questions? Contact the SBDC at email@example.com or 971-722-5080.